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Losing a loved one is one of the most emotional experiences in life, regardless of whether the companion that passed happen to belong to human or animal. For friends or family members, it can be difficult to know what to say or do to console the person who is grieving. This can be especially challenging for someone who may not have ever shared a close bond with an animal. Even if you are a “pet person,” your experience with grief may have been entirely different from the person you are trying to console. If you’re struggling to find ways to offer comfort and support, here are a few ideas.
Give them a call.
As difficult as it may be, acknowledging your friend or family member’s loss is an incredibly compassionate thing to do. Pick up the phone and give them a call. Don’t worry about saying the most eloquent thing. Just start with “I’m so sorry for your loss,” and see where the conversation leads. The person grieving may want to talk about his or her feelings, or may prefer to talk about anything but. If you’re truly at a loss for words, tell them that. It’s more about letting them know you’re thinking of them than it is about using the perfect words.
Send a card, text or email.
If you’re truly not comfortable having a person-to-person conversation with the friend or family member who is grieving, reaching out via email or text or sending a condolence card in the mail can be the next best thing. Just be sure to personalize your message as much as possible. Address the recipient, use the pet’s name, share some genuine words of support and empathy. Again, it’s not always about what is said, but more the fact that you took the time to reach out.
Have flowers or a plant delivered.
Just because the loss was of a pet and not a human, doesn’t mean the same gestures of care and compassion can’t be used. Some people would love to have their sorrow brightened a bit by receiving a bouquet of flowers or a nice plant. Base it on the person who is grieving. If you think they’d appreciate such a gesture, then go for it.
Give a one-of-a-kind keepsake.
Pet memorials can be a great tool for helping a person work through the grieving process because they provide a physical representation of the companion who has passed. This can be as simple as putting a picture in a frame, but if you really want to touch their heart and make an impact, consider a one-of-a-kind memorial, like a portrait or a piece of remembrance art. It’s such a thoughtful way to help your friend or family member honor their loved one.
Make a donation.
If a card or gift aren’t your cup of tea, or if you want to do a little something extra, consider making a donation in the pet’s name to a local shelter or animal rescue organization. Tribute donations are a great way to turn grief and sadness into purpose by honoring the passing of one animal while also actively making a difference in the lives of others.